BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “And now I am bound by the Spirit[f] to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.” Acts 20:22,23 NLT
From the time of his conversion to his death, Paul the Apostle faced opposition and persecution for his faith. As the country song says he had to know “when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.” In other words, when to run, when to escape and when to face with courage and resolve that which he knew was going to bring suffering.
In his early Christian life, he escaped a city through being let down the wall of the city in a basket. In Ephesus when a riot was breaking out, his companions kept Paul from going into the city. In a variety of situations, Paul followed the direction of the Holy Spirit and the help of companions.
During a pivotal time in his life, he was “bound” or compelled the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem.The events that would take place, though in the natural seemed ill-advised, would comprise about a third of the Book of Acts.
After his final time with the Ephesian elders, Paul is in Caesarea when a prophet warns Paul, “He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” (Acts 21:11 NLT)
This caused great fear for Paul’s friends, but didn’t faze Paul, but confirmed what he already knew in his heart. Paul’s response was, “You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 NLT)
This is similar to the words Paul spoke to the Elders at Ephesus, “…my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 NLT)
Paul was a “man on a mission” even though he didn’t know all that would entail. The ensuing years would be years of persecution, trial, and imprisonment. He would have the opportunity to “tell his story” to crowds, kings and religious leaders. He would need to continue to exercise wisdom and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
It would be while Paul was in a prison in Rome that he would write seven of his letters that are part of our New Testament.
We would like to think that the Lord’s will and direction is to keep us and protect us from all harm. Often that does happen. However, there are times when the Lord will use times of trial and hardship for his will to be accomplished and for the gospel and his kingdom to be advanced. At those times we can be confident of the courage and resolve to be “faithful even to death.”